Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Adventures in Funerals: Part 4

Friday, June 10th... my birthday! I woke up that morning, got up out of bed... and OH MY GOD! My whole body was aching! I was only one year older, so why was my body acting like it had aged 20 years? From my feet to my neck, every thing was sore... have I really been running around THAT much?

I got up, ate breakfast, and showered. When I emerged out of the shower my brother in law and sister in law were in the room. They had brought me birthday cards from them, my mother in law, and even purchased one from my kids! It made me smile, and for a moment I forgot my aging body.

By the time my husband got finished showering and we were dressed and I was all beautified (hair, makeup, etc) it was about time for lunch. They told me of this place called El Tequila that served authentic Mexican food. I am always leery of white people talking about "authentic" Mexican food... especially in Minnesota, so I asked "How authentic?"

"Laura, we went there one time over lunch and we heard the cooks in the kitchen blasting their music and singing along to the Mexican music. It sounded like they were having a blast!"

"OK, that is what they normally do... that is authentic... I am going!"

We got there, and I quickly realized I could speak in Spanish, order my favorite meal (carne asada), and even order my favorite beverage (horchata)!

Horchata is a Christmas party in your mouth. Carne asada is just pure deliciousness.....

I was in heaven! Happy birthday to me! I hope I enjoyed it because that was all the birthday I got. After lunch it was time to run again.

My husband and I had to run to Camp Ripley to find the ribbons, a new beret for him, and some special kind of Gatorade for my brother in law (it was a "they only sell it there" thing and since he cannot buy anything at Camp Ripley...). We then drove on to some other town to look for an army surplus store for something else, but never found the store.

On the way back to Brainerd I was in shock, astonished, scared, happy.... I looked up to see a black bear cross the road! I had never seen a bear before, aside from on television, and holy shit! There was one right in front of me! I grabbed my husband shook him and shouted: "Is that a bear? That is a bear isn't it? OMG!! It's a bear!! I SAW A BEAR!!!!" As soon as it was across the road and out of my vision I realized I never even THOUGHT to reach for my camera which was right at my feet... but the bear looked kinda like this:

So,  was in awe, and very disappointed that I did not even register the thought in my head to grab my camera. My husband asked me if I wanted him to stop. I told him "Why? The bear is gone now!". Should I have taken a picture of the highway and said "This is where I saw a bear!"? No... not the same...

We got back to the hotel, dropped off everything we purchased at Camp Ripley, and started to look for everything else we needed for his father's ribbon rack. The issue was we were no where near an Air Force base. This is where my good online friend, and fellow army spouse, Mare comes in to save the day. Her husband was home on R&R from Afghanistan and she took time out of her special limited time with him to go through his old Air Force stuff and try to find what we needed. Whatever she did not have she offered to purchase and send our way overnight. I am telling you, this woman is the most awesome woman on the planet!

My husband started to put together the rack of ribbons, and I realized that we still had not got the uniforms dry cleaned, the dog was not buried, and we had not started cleaning up my mother in law's house! It was almost dinner time, so everything would have to wait for the next day... we had time, right? Her father and brother had just left Texas late that morning, so we had until tomorrow evening to get everything done, right? Wrong.

My husband and I got up late the next morning, after being up till 2 am trying to get stuff sewn on the uniforms and other details finished last minute, well my sister in law was... my husband was standing over her shoulder "supervising", and my brother and law and I were cracking inappropriate jokes in another room to keep ourselves entertained.  I called dry cleaners to see who could offer same day service as well as sewing for the uniforms and found one person that said "I can get it back to you this afternoon if you bring it in NOW!" So I called my brother in law since he had both uniforms in his possession and he got them dropped off. My husband and I stepped outside to smoke a cigarette when my brother in law called us back to tell us that the father and brother of my mother in law had just arrived. HOLY SHIT! The house was not clean, and the DOG WAS STILL IN THE FREEZER!

My brother in law came to pick up my husband to do a few errands real quick and my sister in law and I hightailed it over to my mother in law's house as fast as we could... I still wanted my manicure and pedicure...

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Adventures in Funerals: Part 3

Before my husband had arrived in the States, I spent a little bit of time with my brother and sister in law. I had told my brother in law that we needed to get the dog buried soon or I was afraid that we would go in for the viewing and see a little white poodle tucked under my father in law's arm in the coffin. He laughed then went straight faced, "Oh my god! Don't say that in front of my mom or she will do it!"

We had gone to the store to choose the flowers for the viewing and funeral. It happened to be right after all of the graduation ceremonies, so there were a lot of congratulatory balloons around as well. I shouted out: "I KNOW! Let's get a SHIT TON of balloons!!! I'm sure your mother would just love that!"

My brother in law pointed to a balloon with writing on it, and in an accusatory voice said "YOU did it!". I never noticed the balloon behind me, and it had written on it "YOU DID IT!". I laughed like a lunatic, and just then the florist walked up.

We were discussing the arrangements, and choosing what we liked. She left to go into the back to see if she had the kind of flowers we were looking for. We resumed our joking about the balloons, and my brother in law said that if we had the balloons there his grandmother would probably have a heart attack. It was at this point I noticed there was another message on the other side of the balloon, so I grabbed the balloon, turned it around so he could see, and said "Way to go!"

My brother and sister in law were laughing so hard by then that they had tears running down their faces... and right then the florist came back. I am sure were were totally inappropriate considering the situation, but I have a hard time being serious all the time.

The next day...
My mother in law's father and brother were on their way from Texas. We had plans to go over, bury the dog, and tidy up as best as we could before they got there. The problem was getting my mother in law out of the house without everyone else with her so that it could get done (she did not want to see the dog buried).

There were so many things to get done! When I woke up Thursday morning I had an email from my sister in law that included a poem that was to be printed out and distributed with the memorial cards that get printed out for the viewing and funeral. The card had been chosen the night previous over dinner at Perkin's. My husband and I tweaked it a bit, we got picked up from the hotel room and left to go find clothes for my father in law to be buried in. That went over well without much of a hitch aside from my husband deciding he needed a new suit to wear to the viewing. We went to the funeral home, gave them the clothes and a wedding ring (that was too small so we had to get another one), chose pictures for a video memorial, did the final deliberations over the quotes on the cards, and left to go get some food.

My mother in law wanted to go to Bonanza, but I HATED the place... oh well, we went anyway. We get our food and sit down to eat. My mother in law had not been eating or sleeping, so we were determined to get her full so she would get sleepy. I ordered the waitress to take back the regular coffee my mother in law ordered, and had her bring decaf. I was half tempted to drop a few sleeping pills in there, but before I made up my mind she returned to the table (damn). Halfway through our meal she started crying loudly. My husband (who was sitting next to her) says to her "Stop that. Quit it Mom. There is a time and a place for that, and this is not it. Just hold it in."

OK, he was not THAT mean...
I nudged him with my elbow. When he looked over at me I whispered "She just lost her husband, she is in pain. She is your mother. Fucking HUG her!" So he did a sideways hug and arm rub real quick... oh well... it is the best he can ever do. It helped though, she stopped crying. After the meal I ran outside to smoke, not bothering to wait for anyone else to finish, and my sister in law followed me. We walked over to Office Max or some shit and had copies made of the poem, ran them to the funeral home, then went over to my mother in law's house.

We met back up with my husband and brother in law where we hung out for a little bit, then we all left to go to the framing shop to begin work on "The Shrine". Next it was on to Wal Mart to get stuff that my husband needed (razors, swim trunks that he would never use, deodorant, etc.). After all of that it was time for dinner, but we still had to get missing ribbons for the uniform, get the uniform dry cleaned... bah, that has to wait.

By the time we got back to the hotel it was about 10 at night... we could do the rest of the running tomorrow,  it was just a few things, right? It was my birthday the next day, and I wanted a manicure and a pedicure!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Adventures in Funerals: Part 2

Well I did not figure that eating at Arby's one time would KILL me, or even ruin my diet if I just caved the one time and went back to my diet the next day, right?? Besides, I was in America! I had not eaten Arby's in more than a year and a half!!! It is good to indulge now and again!

My sister in law and I were leaving Arby's, and standing outside so I could smoke when my brother in law called her. I half listened in, but not much I could tell from hearing "HI. What? Why? Ok, I will see what I can do." I could not stop myself from asking her what the phone call was about when she told me that my brother in law told her that she needed to call the airport in Minneapolis to have my husband call his mother right away. I replied with a "WHAT?!?!?!?"

Apparently my husband's brother and his mother were arguing, and she wanted to talk to my husband... when he was an hour from getting there, and more than likely about to board the plane. I was heated...

"Oh HELL NO! That is NOT going to happen! Don't call the airport! He is more than likely about to board the plane, and I will be damned if this shit is going to start before he even steps foot off the plane here! I want him to get here, get showered, eat, and get a good night's rest before he even has to start dealing with this shit!"

I was not mad at my sister in law, she knew that. She told me she would not call and tell her husband that she tried and that he was already on the plane. I found out later from my husband that my mother in law had called the airport, but my husband was just about to board the plane, so he never called her back. Yay for that. I did not need him stepping off the plane in a bad mood.

She and I had a little time to kill, so we drove around for a bit before heading to the airport to pick up my husband. While we were driving she told me that if we were over at my mother in law's house NOT to eat anything. She explained to me that in January one of her dogs (a poodle) got loose and was hit by a car and died. My mother in law called my brother in law telling him he needed to come over and bury the dog. He said he could not, the ground was too frozen to dig. She got mad at him, called the neighbors, and made them try to bury the dog, but they soon found out that the ground was frozen (after trying to dig for 30 minutes) and gave up... so she put the dog in a bag, in a box.... in the freezer. Wow, ok... thanks for the tip.

We got to the airport, my husband arrived, and he got off the plane. I hugged him, kissed him, and he was ready to get going. We got to his brother's house and his mother was there waiting. Damn. He took her cell phone so that he would have a means of communication while we were there, and at some point I looked at the photos on the phone. Death , death, and more death. There were numerous pictures of the dead dog (taken AFTER the dog died), and 4 pictures of my dead father in law (2 taken while he was on life support, and 2 taken after he was taken off). My brother in law told me there would have been more, but my mother in law refused to delete any pictures of the dead dog from the phone. I never told my husband about the pictures.

After we took my husband to Perkins to eat we had to go back to the airport because his mother had ordered an Air Force uniform jacket to be flown in that night for his father to be buried in. The lady that was delivering it was a tiny toothpick of a woman named Apple. She handed the box to my husband (who was still in his combat uniform because we still had not been to the hotel at this point), stood there, and then walked over to hug me. I was confused... why was she hugging me??? She hugged no one else. I told them as we were leaving it was because of the pink hair... I get special treatment. We soon found out the jacket would not fit, and I tried telling them that they were not going to find a jacket that fit because they do not EXIST in the size they needed! No offense, but my father in law was a VERY large man, so Air Force jackets do not exist in the size they needed because there is no one in the military that size (he wore a 5X in shirts, ok?). Even if you cut the jacket down the back it would not fit because it would not fit over his arms. After much grief stricken internet searching, my husband realized this and I told him that they could just frame the jacket with his award ribbons instead.

What I was picturing and what was made were two different things. I wish I took a picture of this monstrosity because it ended up being something that looked like it belonged in a war museum and not something one would hang in their home. It was about 4 feet or so high, 4 feet in length, and about 2 inches thick. There was 2 wooden plaques from his service in Vietnam in there, the jacket, 2 pictures of him when he first enlisted, and a poem (with word being given to me by my husband that more would be going in there). It is now called "The Shrine" by my husband.

We now had to go find something for my father in law to wear to be buried in, as well as clothes for my brother in law and my mother in law. We also had to get the dog buried and get her house cleaned up before my mother in law's father and brother arrived the next day (and do it when she was not home)...

Friday, June 24, 2011

Adventures in Funerals: Part 1

So almost 3 weeks ago I wrote that I would be gone for a week or two... I never accounted for jet lag kicking my ass so bad I could barely remember my own name.... so here I am, back in Germany, back to work, and back to blogging.... I am also back to sleeping alone.. hmph...

Sunday, June 5th, I got word that my husband's father had passed away. To be honest, I knew that it was coming. He was not in the best health, had to have oxygen 24/7, and was unsteady on his feet. I hoped it would not happen while my husband was deployed, but we cannot chose when these things will happen, right? I sat by the phone waiting for my husband to call me, I only had to wait 2 hours... 

He called and I could hear the heartbreak in is voice. I made sure to tell him to make sure I was on the emergency leave paperwork so that I could fly out to the States to be there for him. The next day I had my flight info and was packed, the day after that I left for the airport.

I was so afraid the trip was doomed from the beginning... the soldiers that took me to the airport did not fill up the gas before they got me so we stopped at the Esso to get gas, problem with that was they did not have Euro to pay for it and their credit cards would not work. I never transferred money from savings into checking, so I did not have it either. An hour or so later (which was around the time I had to be at the airport) we were on our way. We got there but he took a wrong turn and we ended up at the back of the airport... it was already after ten and my flight left at noon. We got to the right area, I unloaded my bags and ran inside, noticing along the way that I had broken my purse strap. 

I got my tickets, checked my luggage, and got to security... once I was through the screening and was retrieving my carry on luggage I noticed that my boarding passes were missing from my bin! I yelled at the TSA agents: "MY TICKETS!!! MY TICKETS! WHERE ARE MY TICKETS????"

TSA: Are you sure you had them?

Me: Yeah, I had them! (Seriously, I would not be able to make it through security without them!)

The TSA guy looked around and there they were, on the floor by his feet. I ran to find my gate slowing down at shops long enough to see if they had a pin to fix my purse strap... no such luck. I got to my gate and they began boarding... I decided to tie one strap to another just to get by. 

I got to my seat... and waited... no one came to sit by me! I had 5 seats all to myself!!!!! We took off and as soon as people could move about the cabin a guy came over and sat one seat away from me and took his shoes off... I must have glared at him because he apologized and offered to move. I, being the ever polite person that I am (sometimes) in real life, told him it was ok, I still had three seats to sprawl out on. I watched Beastly from the in-flight movies because I REFUSE to watch Justin Beiber: Never Say Never (he should have never said anything, ever, or sang anything, ever). I took out my Zune and watched Red Riding Hood and one of the Twilight movies, I took out my Sony Digital Book Reader and read some... I never slept. We landed in Dulles International Airport and began the ├╝ber long trek to customs. Did I mention I am a smoker? Did I mention it had been over 10 hours since I had a cigarette? 

I got to the customs line which was LONG and I was shaking and very jittery. A man in line asked me if I was nervous, I told him no I was needing nicotine. I got to customs and the man asked me where I was coming from.

Me: Germany.

Him: What were you doing there?

Me: Living.

He looked at me a little oddly and asked me why. I got an insane smile on my face and said in an uncharacteristically high voice "Because my hubby is in the MILITARY!!!!"

He handed me my passport and let me on through. I grabbed my checked luggage, toted it a few feet to transfer it to a new carousel to go back out to my next plane and had to get screened by TSA again... why? I never left the secure area... but maybe it is because the United States does not trust the other countries to screen people properly... but yes, along the trip I was frisked, and I had the full body scan... and I had no issue with either... hell, I had not been felt up for MONTHS anyway ;)

As soon as I got out of there I asked the first person I saw where the closest smoking area was (after TSA I strangely needed one more) and hightailed it to the smokers lounge. God bless D.C. and their smokers lounges!!! I smoked two cigarettes in two breaths I am sure and quickly got to the tram to make it to my next gate... did anyone ever tell you if you go long periods of time without smoking, then smoke real fast you can get dizzy? The moving tram did not help matters any...

I flew on a slightly smaller plane (two seats on each side rather than two/five/two) to Minneapolis where I had to run outside to have another smoke, go back in to get my tickets to my next stop since it was on a different airline, and make it back through security to find my gate. I found it at the end of the airport, and noticed there was no runway to the planes... I would be walking outside to get on the plane and climb up some steps, meh, no problem... aside from I forgot that it was over 100 degrees outside and I just flew in from Germany where it had barely gotten to 80 a few times. Hey, I am outside! Can I smoke again?? No? Damn...

This last plane was tiny... luckily the flight was a short 25 minutes or so. I arrived at my final destination at 8:30pm, or 3:30am my time. The airport was tiny. It was so small and cute, you wanted to pinch its cheeks! I went to find baggage claim, and I see this just around the corner from the waiting area:
Cute, innit?
No one was waiting for me, so I called my brother in law to let him know I was in. He sent his wife to get me. I went outside to smoke and OMG it was 100 degrees there too! HOLY CRAP! I brought all jeans and t-shirts because I did not think it would be this hot!!!! 

We drove to my in-laws house where my brother in law was waiting, and on the phone with his mother. I talked to her for a few, then we started calling hotels to see who offered military discounts. I chose a hotel, I rented a room, then went to Wal-Mart (GLORRRYYYYY!!!!!!) to get soap, shampoo, and other toiletries I did not bring with me. By the time I got back to my room it was about 11 pm (6am my time) an I had been up for 24 hours with no sleep. I decided to forgo showering and fell right into the bed and promptly passed out.

This would be me if I was a cute kitty...
I woke up at 4 am for the day... it was COLD! The weather got up to about 54 degrees for the high... where the fuck did I land??? Oh well, it was going to be a good day regardless, I was going to see my husband since his flight arrived that afternoon... I showered, dressed, put on my makeup, and ate breakfast. I read Tina Fey's book "Bossypants", around noon I called my brother in law to tell him I was awake and BORED!

He sent his wife again, we went to Arby's- first day my diet was shot to hell. 

To be continued.....

This Moment- I am back!

While this moment was not from this week, it is a moment that I will never forget. I am back to writing, and will begin posting of my "adventures" tomorrow. In the meantime, I am happy I am back home, I am happy I gained no weight after eating out 2-3 times a day everyday for 2 weeks, I am happy I got to see and spend time with my husband, and I am happy I got to be supportive of him and his family during this time.

Share your moment in the comments below so we can stalk you.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Leave of absence...

I wanted to let everyone know that it will be a week or two before I post again. I just found out yesterday my father in law passed away, so I am flying out to the States within the next few days. My husband is already on his way (I think/hope) and I hope I get there before he does so that I can help him keep himself together.

I knew that this would happen soon since his father was in very bad health, I had just hoped it would not happen while my husband was deployed... it is so much harder to have something like that happen when you are deployed.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Sibling Envy

I envy my children. I watch them as they play together, laugh together, hear them upstairs talking and giggling when they are supposed to be in their separate rooms asleep...

I find out about one sharing secrets with another, and the other keeping those secrets even when they are mad at their sibling...

Sure, they fight and argue, but it is normal sibling stuff. My daughter and my youngest son are incredibly close, and I watch them, smile, and feel a pang of jealousy.

Why? Because I never had that kind of relationship with my brother. I grew up not understanding how my friends could be so close to their brothers, how they could say they loved them... I grew up being angry about it and at times sickened from seeing close siblings.

I grew up being abused by my brother. He would hit me, touch me, and say horrible things. I would say nothing and tell no one because I was afraid and ashamed.

When I became an adult I would wonder what my life would be like today if I had not grown up with over a decade of abuse at his hands. I wonder if I would have become a teen mother, I wonder if I would have completed high school with my class, I wonder if I would have ever gotten into the abusive relationship with my two youngest children's father.

I wonder what it would feel like to not feel sickened by my brother, what it would feel like to not be ashamed of him, what it would be like to not wish that he was never my brother, to not wish he was NORMAL.

I watched him grow into an adult and continue his abusive behavior to other women, I watched those women gain the courage to leave him after a few years. I listened to him as he claims not to remember anything and I get angry wondering why he is allowed to forget it or deny it while I cannot. I listen as he begs me not to say anything to whatever woman of the moment he is with while I wrestle with my conscience.

I watch my children and envy their relationship and smile at knowing they will not have to endure what I did growing up. I smile knowing that they love eachother, protect eachother, and have a friendship as siblings that I still cannot understand. I look at them, and I am happy.